HERMISTON, Ore. (KGW) — Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office deputies, along with fire and medical crews, were called to the scene of an explosion at a food services building in Eastern Oregon on Tuesday afternoon.
Employees at a Shearer’s Foods facility located along Highway 207 south of Hermiston called 911 to report a boiler explosion with possible injuries, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s office.
There were two known injuries at the site, police announced in a subsequent news release. Both patients were transported to Good Shepherd Hospital in Hermiston.
Initial information suggests the fire was caused by an explosion of a portable boiler fueled by natural gas, police said. Umatilla County Fire District #1 is the primary agency for the fire, and has requested aid from surrounding fire agencies.
A photo included with the first news release showed black smoke billowing out of a large section of an industrial building, with substantial visible flames coming out of one side. At least one wall of the building appears to have been burned and partially collapsed in the photo.
The Oregon Department of Transportation was notified to close access on the adjacent stretch of Highway 207, police said, and Union Pacific Railroad was notified to close down traffic on a rail line that runs nearby.
Residences and businesses to the south of the site, including an RV park, a gas station and a hotel have been told to standby for possible evacuation due to air quality from the smoke plume.
The plume has initially remained high enough to avoid the need for evacuation, police said, but the public is asked to avoid the area.
Shearer’s is headquartered in Ohio and manufactures snack food products such as potato chips and popcorn. The Oregon facility is one of 11 production facilities that the company operates throughout the United States and Canada, according to its website.